Abril sends HRT Mercedes-AMG to the top in sunset session at Circuit Paul Ricard

Abril sends HRT Mercedes-AMG to the top in sunset session at Circuit Paul Ricard

HRT kept Mercedes-AMG on top in pre-qualifying at Circuit Paul Ricard thanks to a rapid lap from Vincent Abril, who hit the top of the timing screens shortly before sunset. 

The session began in daylight at 20:40 and concluded 90 minutes later in darkness, with the best times coming around the 21:00 mark. This provided teams and drivers with crucial preparation for tomorrow's six-hour race, which runs from 18:00 to midnight.    

AKKA ASP led the earlier free practice, but the French squad was beaten into second place in the evening session thanks to a 1m53.993s from its former driver Abril in the #4 machine. 

Raffaele Marciello was second quickest in the #88 Mercedes-AMG, continuing his team's strong form on home turf. Saintéloc Racing finished third as Christopher Hasse repeated his free practice result in the #25 Audi, lapping just 0.069s shy of Marciello. 

Fourth spot went to the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW. David Pittard set a 1m54.279s to put the Bavarian marque in the mix ahead of a busy Saturday, while Mirko Bortolotti made it four brands in the top five at the wheel of the #63 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini. 

Sixth overall went to the Silver Cup pace-setter, Konstantin Tereschenko, who completed an excellent night for AKKA ASP in the #87 Mercedes-AMG. The Russian was 0.148s clear of class rival Mikäel Grenier in another AMG GT3, in this case the #57 Winward Racing entry. 

Sky Tempesta Racing completed a perfect Friday by topping the Pro-Am class, having previously occupied P1 in the morning's bronze test and in free practice. On this occasion it was Eddie Cheever III who set the lap in the #93 Ferrari, ensuring that all three drivers have topped a session today.

The Tempesta car was an impressive 10th overall, five spots clear of class rival AF Corse with its #53 Ferrari. Full session times can be viewed here

Live coverage will begin with tomorrow's qualifying session (10:45) and continues for the six-hour race, which gets underway at 18:00. All of action will be free to view on the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS website and across the championship's social media channels.